France is investigating whether journalists have been spied on with spyware from NSO Group

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French prosecutors investigate whether NSO Group spyware was used against two French journalists. According to the journalists themselves, they were spied on by Moroccan intelligence services. Prosecutors have not yet said which countries are under investigation.

For the investigation, the French prosecutors are looking at ten possible charges, according to France24. It is examined whether the privacy of the journalists was infringed, whether there was fraudulent access to personal electronic devices and whether the attackers were connected to a criminal organization.

The investigation follows a complaint from investigative journalism website Mediapart. This medium claims that telephones belonging to founder Edwy Plenel and a journalist were targeted by Moroccan intelligence services. Morocco denies using NSO Group’s spyware. The satirical weekly Le Canard enchaîné is also said to be considering a complaint with the French prosecutors. Other journalists, including from Le Monde, Agence France-Presse and France24, are also said to have been targeted by Moroccan intelligence services.

Last weekend, 17 news organizations said they had jointly investigated evidence that Pegasus spyware from the Israeli company NSO Group had been used to spy on journalists and human rights activists. Pegasus can eavesdrop and track smartphone users remotely. For example, messages, photos and e-mails can be copied.

The company itself denies that the spyware is used for this and says that the software is only intended to detect potential criminals and terrorists. NSO Group says it thoroughly checks customer human rights files before selling.

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